Sinclair Lewis's Main Street
by Greta Bahnemann, Metadata Librarian, Minnesota Digital Library, Minitex
Electronic Library for Minnesota Resources (for Minnesota residents)
- "(Harry) Sinclair Lewis." DISCovering Authors, Gale, 2003. Student Resources In Context, https://link-galegroup-com.content.elibrarymn.org/apps/doc/EJ2101100644/.... Accessed 12 July 2019.
- Lewis, Sinclair. "Excerpt from Main Street." World War I and the Jazz Age, Primary Source Media, 1999. American Journey. Student Resources In Context, https://link-galegroup-com.content.elibrarymn.org/apps/doc/EJ2164000235/.... Accessed 12 July 2019.
- Sinclair Lewis. Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2016. Web. 12 May. 2016.
Additional Resources for Research
- Discussion Guide, "Main Street by Sinclair Lewis." American Library Association Web. 12 May 2016.
- SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Main Street.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 27 May 2016.
- "Main Street - Places Discussed" Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature Ed. R. Kent Rasmussen. eNotes.com, Inc. 2003 eNotes.com 14 Aug, 2017.
- Fisher, Joel. “Sinclair Lewis and the Diagnostic Novel: ‘Main Street’ and ‘Babbitt.’” Journal of American Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, 1986, pp. 421–433. JSTOR.
Teaching Guide: Sinclair Lewis's Main Street
Primary Source Analysis
For each source, ask students to indicate:
- the author's point of view
- the author's purpose
- historical context
For inquiry-based learning, ask students to:
- explain how a source tells its story and/or makes its argument
- explain the relationships between sources
- compare and contrast sources in terms of point of view and method
- support conclusions and interpretations with evidence
- identify questions for further investigation
This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, Sinclair Lewis's Main Street , in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.
- The era depicted in Main Street was one of great change and upheaval in American society. The years before and during World War I were marked by the rise in social movements including the labor movement, the fight for women's suffrage, and the breaking down of the 19th century class system. Do you think these events would be harder or easier for a small town to deal with?
- Do you think it is easier to live in a small town, medium-size city, a large city or suburb? Why? List some of the advantages and disadvantages of where you live.
- Look at the photographs of Sauk Centre, Minnesota (Sinclair Lewis's hometown). Did you achieve any new insights about the novel after looking at the images of the people and buildings?
- Ask students to think about a time when they wanted to change something but were met with resistance and road blocks. Ask students to write a journal entry about this experience. How did it feel when they realized they couldn't win others over to their point of view?
- Ask students to think about something they would like to change in their school such as a later start time or an addition to the curriculum, etc. Have them brainstorm ways in which they could initiate change. Write an action plan with appropriate steps.